Cowboying by Trout Lake Creek (PCT mi 2232.5), walked 30.8 miles today
Got moving by 7 today and used some of the nearby ice cold spring water to concoct my first ever Starbucks Via iced coffee drink, which was crazy delicious and improved my morning considerably. I still have 5 packets left from the hiker box at Cascade Locks (there were hundreds there; someone has insider access in the industry and has been sending boxloads to trail angels ever since the Saufleys'), and it's safe to say I'm glad I didn't know about these, the cold-water Via mixes, earlier, because I would've bankrupted myself purchasing them. They'll probably be a line item in my CDT budget, whenever that happens. Anyway, back to the PCT ... uh .... I hiked it all day! And 5 miles into it, I ran into a guy named Fuller, my first nobo thru-hiker encounter since the 5 miles out of Cascade Locks. He and I chatted for a bit--he was just breaking camp--but then I moved on and he never caught up.
The trail appeared easy on the elevation profile today and that turned out to be pretty much the case ... I figured unless something came along to really slow me down, I'd make 30 miles comfortably. The air was extra clear this morning and I got good views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams (I think), plus a look 50 miles or so to the west where clouds appeared to be building. The last time I saw that pattern was right before Jefferson, and it didn't end well, so I was ready for the worst this afternoon/evening but it never came, it just got fully sunny in all directions again. Many many weekenders or day hikers passed me throughout the day; only one of them, a fellow named Martin at the end of the day, picked me out as a thru-hiker and asked me about it. The rest, I got the sense, may not have been very aware of the PCT ... One lady asked me, "Hiking out today?" and by the time I replied in the negative, she was already moving the other direction and said, "Oh, good for you!" in a very strange motherly tone that conveyed the impression that she hadn't really processed my response. There were a couple of people picking mushrooms and huckleberries who seemed annoyed by my presence and the fact that I always wanted to pet their dogs (which were of course off-leash). Basically, I'm glad Labor Day is over and these amateurs can hopefully stay out of my damn woods from now on.
Around 6:30 I made it here, to good old Trout Lake Creek, and made the risky decision not to even bother with my tent ... I'll doubtless be punished for my insolence before dawn with some mixture of pouring rain, hail and/or snow, but it's okay because I'm going into town tomorrow. The only other person here was Mario, a cool dude from Portland who has been southbounding the Washington section. He had built a doozy of a campfire by the time I showed up, so I hung out there with him for an hour or so eating dinner and talking shop. Darkness now sets in way too early, around 8-8:15, so I turned in then ... Tomorrow morning I've just got to get up and down 5 miles and then thumb a ride to Trout Lake, which everyone, from Yogi's book to the southbounders from the last few days, seems to love. Whether I leave town tomorrow afternoon or stick around for the night is unclear and depends mostly on the weather.